Check The Vibes Presents: Top 50 Hip Hop and R&B Songs of 2018

Updated: Dec 13, 2018

It’s been another prolific year in R&B and Hip-Hop music. In a landscape that changes every day, artist are still looking for new ways to make an impact. This year has seen an overwhelming amount of music be released and the streaming era has made it even more difficult to have the lasting impact that once existed. Although the processing time for music is at an all time low, it never changes the ability for a great song to stand out. As easy as it is to bypass entire projects, a great song can still stand as a beacon. It still allows an artist, whether a veteran or a new one, to gain the necessary traction needed to maintain relevance. Below are the Top 50 Hip-Hop & R&B songs that we've enjoyed at Check the Vibes.

Couple of things to consider as you’re going through this list. This consisted solely of songs that were released solely up to November 16th, 2018. Anything released after falls into the fourth quarter which will likely have the most impact next year. We did not consider any music that we did not listen to. There were an endless number of noteworthy releases in 2018, it's impossible to listen to and completely digest them all. Most importantly, this list is not based on any formula. These are simply the songs that we enjoyed the most, so there are not any criteria measured other than how much it meant to us! So, without further delay, here is the Top 50 Hip Hop and R&B songs of 2018.

50. Bruno Mali Kidd: Scarface

Producer(s): Rawkey

Album: M.A.D.E. 2

Label: 977950 Records DK

Miami got next, maybe even got now. Bruno Mali Kidd is one of the rappers at the forefront. On the heels of his M.A.D.E. release, he followed that up with the sequel. Scarface smacks you across the face immediately. Miami isn't appreciated enough for the quality of street rappers who can really rap. Scarface cuts to the point. Hard beat, dope lyrics, simple chorus that’s easy to bounce to. “I’m from where they gun butt you and knock a few braces off, I’m from where if your money long you knock a few cases off, only home-run you get if you knock a few bases off, ” Bruno Mali snarls. He’s every bit as convincing and serious as the menacing beat suggest.

49. Lil Wayne: Don’t Cry (feat. XXXTentacion)

Producer(s): Z3N & Ben Billions

Album: Tha Carter V

Label: Young Money. Universal

After years of legal battles, public frustrations, and bickering with his label head and father figure, Lil' Wayne finally got to release the Carter V. The first song that we hear is easily the most impactful of the album. Wayne snagged one of the first posthumous features from XXX Tentacion and his vocals light up the record. Throughout the song, Lil’ Wayne sounds rejuvenated. It makes sense given that Don’t Cry was one of the last couple of songs recorded for the album. Hearing Lil’ Wayne rap about striving through all the troubles he has experienced and still being there as humbled as ever showed that he was fully engaged. He was focused and that’s the Wayne that we all appreciate.

48. Dave East & Styles P: Do You What Time It Is

Producer(s): Various Producers

Album: Beloved

Label: Def Jam

Dave East does his best Jadakiss impersonation and executes flawless in-and-out verses with Styles P on “Do You Know What Time It Is.” Throughout their collaborative project, Beloved, the two sound like they’ve been rapping together for years. The clearest example of their chemistry is through the back and forth on this record. The two describe what they did in their day, detailing every hour. All of it involves getting to the money, watching over their families, spending time in the juice bar, and smoking a whole lot of weed. The production is smooth off some 70's soul groove shit and the two sound at home on it. Great things happens when NY rappers stop talking about making NY music and actually just do it.

47. Wale: My Boy (freestyle) (feat. J. Cole)

Producer(s): J. Cole

Album: Free Lunch: EP

Label: Warner Bros.

My Boy is classic bar work from two of the best lyricists in the game. Neither Wale nor J. Cole miss a beat and hit hard hitting line after hard hitting line. The beat is fairly simple and allows plenty of room for Wale and J. Cole to flesh out their punches. Wale kicks things off and J. Cole ends it decisively. Wale hits on several poignant bars like, “these niggas ain’t gangster they be paying. "Extortion ain't dead it just moved to the county." Cole continued his streak of destroying everything he touches as if 2018 is the time of reckoning. He’s making sure that his spot amongst the elite is never denied again, which is ironic considering J. Cole does not come across like someone who cares about status. (He has repeatedly stated in interviews that those things don’t move him.) Lately, there’s been talk from Wale about retirement, because he feels like he’s not being appreciated enough. I hope he reconsiders that stance and remember that he’s still an important voice in rap.

46. Westside Gunn: Elizabeth

Producer(s): The Alchemist

Album: Supreme Blientele

Label: Griselda Records. Empire

The Griselda gang are like folk heroes for New York Hip-Hop. They keep the aesthetic of that sound consistent and the grittiness of their songs is a staple. Westside Gunn is the capo and is a beacon of that consistency. The best song on his Supreme Blientele album is Elizabeth which was laced by the legendary Alchemist. The song is beautiful and yet haunting. The trumpets that are looped gives the music a relaxing, Jazzy feel while Westside Gunn lays a grim outlook over it. The first verse gives a shout out to all those individuals who comprise the criminal underworld. “I know niggas that got two bodies and still a teenager, I know fiends that want to lick the rest of the razor….I know niggas that got 8 balls of pure yay, I know niggas that’ll rob your ass bare faced.” It's tough not to be entranced listening to the record.

45. T.I.: Wraith (feat. Yo Gotti)

Producer(s): Avedon & Scott Storch

Album: Dime Trap

Label: Grand Hustle. Epic

Wraith is vintage T.I. and in every one of his albums he gives us a cut like this. The song instrumental is so stupid, and T.I.’s low pitch slow flow complements the aggressiveness of the production perfectly. He sounds like he is tired of talking to and explaining himself to peasants. Yo Gotti follows suit and keeps it consistent with solid drug raps. It's bound to get you to bounce and blast it cursing down the street. Dime Trap left a lot to be desired, but this is a reminder that T.I. still can be as potent as we know him to be. Even Dave Chapelle can be heard cosigning at the end.

44. Swae Lee (Rae Sremurd): Hurt to Look

Producer(s): Fwdslxsh, E.Y & Bizness Boi

Album: Swaecation/ SR3MM

Label: Ear Drummer. Interscope

Rae Sremurd went out and did something incredibly ambitious in 2018 with the release of SR3MM. A 3-part album with 1 solo album from each Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi and a group album as well. It suffered from too many fillers as you’d expect but there were some gems there. Hurt to Look was one of them. Released as a single before the album came out, Hurt to Look is Swae Lee at his best. Crooning about love and pain from failed romance. What’s great about this record is that it’s all about disappointment with no hint of flash that Rae Sremurd is known to have. Swae Lee sings like someone who has been through way too much for his age until you check social media and think maybe he has been through a lot. (Swae Lee is involved in constant social media fodder involving girlfriends and side chicks) However you may feel about these young boys, Hurt to Look is an incredible song and deserves recognition.

43. Swizz Beatz: 25 Soldiers (feat. Young Thug)

Producer(s): AraabMUZIK

Album: Poison

Label: Epic

I’m sure many may be able to pinpoint Young Thug releases that are more impactful than his solo track on Swizz Beat’s album Poison. The reason I put 25 Soldiers above all of them is for the simple fact that Young Thug is placed in an element that you’ll rarely hear him. AraabMuzik provides a stripped-down beat with simple but heavy kicks and Young Thug sticks to the basics. This is not the animated, unorthodox, distinctive delivery we know Thug for, but him simply kicking hot shit over a hard beat. This seemed to have been for the traditionalist that thinks that no technical skills exist for a rapper as dynamic as he is. It’s not a lot of dexterity on the verses, but some of the lines are clever and sharp. Bars like, “Dressin like Prince but gangster shit is what I live for” and “ ….Red Lobster ask Beyoncé where the crabs at, big bloody bang with 5 where Mcnabb at” shows that he did not come to play around. Shame on those that don’t appreciate this man but we’re happy Swizz Beatz did.

42. Anderson. Paak: Cheers (feat. Q-Tip)

Producer(s): Andre Brissett, Dr. Dre, Q-Tip & Focus…

Album: Oxnard

Label: Aftermath. OBE. 12 Tone

Cheers is a sad song about losing loved ones and dealing with trauma over uplifting instrumentation. It's an interesting way to mask sobering lyrics of loss and regret. Some of the aspects of the song are what we’ve come to expect from Anderson.Paak but watching him vacillate between triumph and pain over the course of 2 verses is what makes Cheers the most interesting song on Oxnard. It's like audio survivor’s remorse. It tugs at your heart string when he wished that Mac Miller, who he was close with, was still with him. It also sounds as if he still has some issues of his own that he has not completely gotten over. Q Tip, who lost one of his closest friends in Phife Dawg, in which a lot of the verse sounds like a homage to him. It’s a beautiful song which will lift you up and bring you down at the same time.

41. Childish Gambino: This is America

Producer(s): Ludwig Göransson & Childish Gambino

Album: CG4 (unconfirmed Title)

Label: mcDJ. RCA